Metal cranes are a dime a dozen in Singapore, but it’s always good to seek out some of their feathery counterparts out in the wild – and get a few deep breaths of fresh air while you’re at it. MacRitchie Reservoir and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve are (literally) evergreen favourites, and we can add one more to the green club – Kranji Marshes, which, at a sprawling 57 hectares, is our island’s largest freshwater farmland. It was cultivated since the ’70s, when the Kranji reservoir was dammed, forming a wild diversity of terrains such as marshland, grassland and secondary forests. We wade through the green and suss out five unique things you can do in this slice of paradise.
Enjoy panoramic views of the Marshes
You’ve been to the top of Marina Bay Sands, ION Sky and Pinnacle@Duxton, but now it’s time to see the city from a very different vantage point: the Raptor Tower at Kranji Marshes. Designed to emulate a bird protecting its nest on a tree, the 10.65-metre-tall wooden structure offers a panoramic view of the surrounding marshes. Educational boards are placed around the open-air observatory deck of tower, helping the eagle-eyed identify birds and pick out landmarks such as the Moorhen Pond and the BBC Shortwave relay station in the distance. From November to March, you can also catch raptor birds – otherwise known as birds of prey – that include migratory visiting species such as the Black Baza and Japanese Sparrowhawk.
Have a one-of-a-kind learning experience
The Kingfisher Burrow is another intriguing structure – it’s an arch that can be used as both an open-air classroom space and a vantage point. With recycled tree trunks for benches (sustainability FTW), shelter, and educational boards about marsh habitats and birds’ feeding habits, it’s the perfect setting for your kids to learn about the importance of nature and conservation. The National Parks Board is even considering the possibility of collaborating with schools to arrange lessons here. Pro tip: for an especially Instagramworthy moment, climb to the top of the arch while your companion takes a photograph of you from below.
Go into stealth mode to bird-watch
With the Marshes being home to 170 species of birds, four species of butterflies and 33 species of dragonflies, it’s easy to catch them all in action, especially in the early morning. Unlike neighbouring Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Kranji Marshes mainly comprises open and grassy marshland, which attracts different kinds of wildlife. Six bird hides and two blinds at the Marsh Station give you a chance to observe birds native to the habitat, such as the Common Moorhen and the Marshes’ signature bird, the Purple Swamphen. The hideouts – they have names like ‘Duck Hide’ and ‘Woodpecker Shelter’ – let visitors spy on wildlife up-close and personal.
Take an epic Instagram shot of the floating boardwalk
If panoramic views and tranquil marshes aren’t enough, the floating boardwalk at the Reed Crossing just might be. Shutterbugs have noticed its resemblance to other photogenic jetties around the world, and snapping a shot down the boardwalk makes it look as though it extends to infinity. The platform is also a key pathway between the public area and the core conservation area – like the Turut Woods and the Parrot Hide – which can only be accessed through special guided walks.
Indulge your inner child with sticks and stones
With the birds chirping in the background and its rural vibe, Kranji Marshes is the perfect place to hark back to simpler times and indulge your inner child. That’s what the many man-made twig structures lying around the marshes are for. Think of all the fun possibilities: you can sit in a ‘nest’, or pose for an artistic shot with friends and family. You can also hop, skip and jump to your heart’s content across the Moorhen pond in the public area – it’s one to bring the whole brood to.
See more of the Kranji Marshes
The Kingfisher Burrow
View of the marsh
One of the bird nests around the marshes
Visit the Kranji Marshes
Home to 170 species of birds, 54 types of buttferflies and 33 different kinds of dragonflies, this nature reserve is the perfect recreation area to observe and enjoy the island's wildlife. At 57 hectares and with a range of natural and green habitats, Kranji Marshes is Singapore's largest freshwater farmland.